On Wednesday, April 8, the Africa Center hosted the virtual book launch of African Security: An Introduction, featuring a topical discussion of emerging trends in African security with authors Dr. John Siko and Dr. Jonah Victor. They were also joined by Ms. Brittany Brown, who formerly served on the National Security Council (under both Obama and Trump) and is now chief of staff for the International Crisis Group. Africa Center Director of Programs and Studies Bronwyn Bruton welcomed guests and introduced the panelists.
Siko and Victor underscored that although it is intended to be an introductory text for students, professionals, and members of the general public, the book advances several policy arguments: that Africa and its security problems are worthy of both comprehension and engagement; that these issues are dynamic and changing, but need to be viewed through the lens of African interests, rather than from an American perspective; and that these problems are difficult to address, but ignoring them is increasingly costly.
Bruton moderated the ensuing discussion, which centered on exploring shortcomings in the current US policymaking process. Panelists also responded to issues raised by the virtual audience, including the security implications of the coronavirus pandemic, how to strengthen US engagement with Africa in a period of austerity, and US (un)willingness to negotiate with adversaries on the continent, alongside a general discussion of trends and lessons learned.
When asked about the United States’ strategic strengths that could be built upon, Brown argued that the United States is well-suited to contribute advisors and help countries negotiate better deals with outside actors. Brown also argued that, despite not being the main contributor to popular movements in countries like Sudan and Ethiopia, the United States’ long-term work with the continent does matter and has influenced these outcomes. Siko agreed, arguing that one of the great strengths of the United States is its soft power and ability to spread ideas.
Find the book available for purchase online in print and e-book formats.
Missed the event? Watch the webcast below.